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REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5×14 “The Devil Complex”

Familiar foes returned this week in an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that might just be the biggest game-changer in a season rife with them.

Spoilers ahead!

The biggest issue this week is that the fear dimension is growing, both in terms of sheer scope and power. The fear anomalies are popping up in quick succession but are becoming increasingly difficult to take out. The anomalies of old, which could vanish in a poof with a single bullet, have been replaced with stronger, more deadly, and way more personal versions. Essentially, we’ve reached the final level and our favorite agents are now facing off against their Fear Bosses.

Fitz grows increasingly frustrated over his inability to figure out how to seal the rift, and things go from bad to worse when his greatest fear shows up in a well-tailored suit. Yup, the Doctor hath returned and he’s bringing all of Fitz’s biggest fears with him. The Doctor makes it clear that he’s come to finish what he, and by proxy Fitz, had started… an ominous threat that promptly sends Fitz reeling. Just as impacted by the reveal is Simmons, who isn’t convinced that the Doctor is actually Fitz’s greatest fear come to life so much as he is hers.

FitzSimmons realize that the Doctor’s main project in the Framework involved experimenting on Inhumans, meaning that YoYo and Daisy are in danger. The Doctor sends an android to take care of YoYo (injuring Mack in the process) but opts to go after Agent Johnson himself. While it initially seems as though he’s all about killing her, the Doctor’s real intention is to return Daisy’s powers.

Or is it?

In a twist that caused me to utter the less family-friendly version of, “What the F….itz” it turns out that… THERE WAS NO DOCTOR AT ALL.

Jemma has an epiphany when telling Mack to be careful about triggering an old injury and realizes that the Doctor wasn’t an anomaly… he was a hallucination triggered by Fitz’s brain injury.

Yep, as it turns out, the potent cocktail of stress and lack of sleep caused Fitz to hallucinate his devilish alter-ego.

It was Fitz who programmed the android to go after Mack, YoYo, and Jemma, Fitz who knocked out Deke without a second glance, and Fitz who strapped Daisy down and took a scalpel to the inhibitor still attached to her neck. Because Fitz realized that only Daisy’s powers could compress the Gravitonium enough to effectively seal the rift once and for all… and despite Jemma and Daisy’s pleas for him to stop his plan (once he comes to holding a scalpel) Fitz pushes forward anyway.

He tears the inhibitor from Daisy against her will and coaches her through compressing the Gravitonium and sealing the rift. And when she says that she’ll never forgive him, Fitz points out that she’s likely not the only one.

Yup. We all knew that something had to throw a wrench in the FitzSimmons relationship. They’ve been too happy and too peaceful for too long! This incident was a big one for the duo as it revealed some harsh truths that neither seem ready to deal with yet, Fitz especially. Still unable to fully come to terms with his inner darkness, Fitz shuts himself off from Jemma and painfully admits, “I don’t know where we go from here.”

It’s a whopper of a declaration that leaves Jemma sobbing in a random Lighthouse hallway. Deke stumbles upon her and, as she confesses that she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to help Fitz, Deke reveals that he knows she will. He proceeds to list details about the FitzSimmons relationship that causes Jemma to question how he knows all of that. Deke then confesses that his mother used to tell him reverent stories about her parents, which is how he knows that FitzSimmons will make it through. BAM! Just like that, Jemma realizes that Deke is her grandson… and promptly pukes on the floor at the reveal.

Elsewhere, Coulson, May, and Piper are trying to figure out what the heck General Hale is up to. They manage to hack her phone and lead her into a trap (AKA lure her onto the Zephyr and fly away) so Coulson can ask a few key questions, namely why it is she’s gunning for him and his team. Unfortunately, Hale isn’t dumb and actually managed to set a trap of her own. Knowing that S.H.I.E.L.D. was going to kidnap her and her “driver,” Hale uses the opportunity to sneak Carl Creel and a whole bunch of C4 onto the Zephyr. Why? Because she’s working with one Anton Ivanov.

Yup, Aida’s pet android is “alive” and well… and apparently pulling all the strings. He and Hale are working to keep humanity afloat and they want Coulson to come with them so they can explain what it is they’re really doing and who it is that’s serving as puppet master. Coulson agrees on the condition that May, Piper, and the rest of the agents aboard the Zephyr get to leave unharmed and then hops in a QuinJet with Hale and the Russian.

At the close of the episode, we see Hale in a dark room with a concealed man (Kree?) who is clearly her superior. Hale is working on behalf of a mysterious organization known as “the Confederacy” and believes that Coulson will be the final piece of the puzzle for whatever plan the group is working on.

Oh, one more thing… the last words exchanged between the two before the episode cut to black were, you guessed it, “Hail Hydra.”

“The Devil Complex” was a phenomenal episode of television, due almost exclusively to the fact that the plot was a heavy one that allowed the show’s power-players to really go to town.

Episode Highs:

  • Anyone who has ever seen an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. knew coming into “The Devil Complex” that Iain de Caestecker was going to bring it. A Fitz-on-Fitz episode pitting Good vs. Evil was just what the Doctor (no pun intended) ordered as it gave de Caestecker the opportunity to once again prove that he is a true acting powerhouse. The dichotomy between the cool and calculating Doctor and the shaky and anxious Fitz was an extraordinary thing to witness, however, I would argue that de Caestecker’s most impressive work came at the close of the episode when the two “versions” of Fitz became one. Fitz’s internal torture over his actions was made external due to de Caestecker’s unbelievable ability to convey every millisecond of turmoil in such visceral fashion. Seeing Fitz come to terms with his darkness, and tearfully admit how much he hates it, was a moment that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. De Caestecker knocked it out of the park this week and deserves all the recognition in the world.
  • It should be noted that Elizabeth Henstridge and Chloe Bennet also really brought their A game this week. Daisy’s tearful pleas with Fitz, a friend who was losing his mind before her eyes and forcing her to play the role of guinea pig, could bring most to their knees thanks to Bennet’s stellar performance. The relationship between Fitz and Daisy has had its ups and downs but the two have always shared a connection that not many others could truly replicate. The love between them made the final sequence that much more heartbreaking, as Daisy’s confusion and pain was made palpable by Bennet’s acting. Similarly, Henstridge crushed it this week. The dawning realization that the Doctor was a hallucination of her new husband, and the desperate attempt to talk sense into Fitz, was a pivotal sequence for Simmons, played to perfection by Henstridge who never fails to land scenes that are heavy with emotion. Simmons is one who always suffers in silence, making the scene with her crying alone in the hallway even more of a heartbreaker.
  • The moment between Deke and Simmons actually made me tear up a bit, which I honestly didn’t see coming. Jeff Ward and Henstridge infused so much heartfelt emotion into that exchange and really managed to make what could have been a campy moment genuinely touching.

Episode Lows:

  • I get that, “It’s all connected.” I really do. But hey ZEUS, Hydra again? Why must everything come back to Hydra?
  • Still processing the psychosis route taken RE: The Doctor. Not sure just yet how I feel about it. Would any version of Fitz really pull a gun on Jemma or go to such extreme measures without just… asking first? Wouldn’t explaining the situation to Daisy and working to convince her that it’s the best option be the more logical approach to this? I realize that all people have light and dark… but Fitz isn’t the Doctor and I’m not sure about how far this week’s episode pushed that part of him is.

What did you think of the latest Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Sound off on Twitter or in the comments below!

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Silje Falck-Pedersen

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